A major row has broken out in Ballater over new arrangements for postal staff following the closure of the local sorting office.
Until recently, mail for Ballater, Crathie and Braemar was dealt with at an official sorting office in Ballater.
I was horrified at the apparent lack of health and safety considerations for the workforceStuart Donaldson MP SNP: West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine
However, Royal Mail decided not to renew the lease for the property, and the handover from Aberdeen has instead taken place in the small public car park on Swann Place.
A petition has now been launched in the village against the new arragements.
Local MP Stuart Donaldson and Ballater Councillor Geva Blackett have both voiced serious concerns over the method of distribution and are raising the issue with Royal Mail.
Mr Donaldson said: “I was horrified at the apparent lack of health and safety considerations for the workforce, as well as the way that private and confidential mail was being so openly sorted, without any appropriate security in place.”
The politicians visited the car park last Friday following complaints from constituents about mail arriving soaked.
Councillor Blackett said: “This car park is a public facility, and therefore there are always other vehicles coming in and out, as well as a number of pedestrians walking through the area.
“The presence of the large Royal Mail van, as well as the many smaller delivery vans and the large trolleys for mail to be moved, make the car park hazardous for both Royal Mail employees and the public.”
A Royal Mail spokeswoman said: “We have moved to a new system of sorting mail before delivery in Ballater. This involves transferring pre-sorted mail into Royal Mail vehicles before our postmen go out on their local routes.
“This new system is being used locally as our small delivery office was not fit for purpose and because Royal Mail is dealing with very low volumes of mail in a rural area.
“The Communications Union (CWU) has been fully involved in the changes and the system has been fully risked assessed. There is no impact on the service we provide to the five rural routes which are served by our postmen.
“The new process has only been in place for a week and we continue to look at other ways of refining the transfer of mail locally in conjunction with our local postmen.”